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"Wheat and Tares"

by David Legge | Copyright © 2014 | All Rights Reserved | www.preachtheword.com

'Preach The Word'Morning everyone, it's good to be with you again. We're turning in our Bibles to Matthew's Gospel chapter 13, Matthew chapter 13, and we're going to begin reading from verse 24. Matthew 13 verse 24, and we'll be going down to verse 30, and then skipping down to verse 36.

Verse 24 then: "Another parable He", that is Jesus, "put forth to them, saying: 'The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field; but while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat and went his way. But when the grain had sprouted and produced a crop, then the tares also appeared. So the servants of the owner came and said to him, 'Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have tares?'. He said to them, 'An enemy has done this'. The servants said to him, 'Do you want us then to go and gather them up?'. But he said, 'No, lest while you gather up the tares you also uproot the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest, and at the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, 'First gather together the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them, but gather the wheat into my barn''".

Down to verse 36: "Then Jesus sent the multitude away and went into the house. And His disciples came to Him, saying, 'Explain to us the parable of the tares of the field'. He answered and said to them: 'He who sows the good seed is the Son of Man. The field is the world, the good seeds are the sons of the kingdom, but the tares are the sons of the wicked one. The enemy who sowed them is the devil, the harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are the angels. Therefore as the tares are gathered and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of this age. The Son of Man will send out His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and those who practice lawlessness, and will cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears to hear, let him hear!'".

We want to encourage you to come to God just now, and ask Him to speak to you - could you do that?

Can we pray together please? And I would ask you, as we pray, to pray for yourself. If you're not familiar with these surroundings, maybe you are a visitor - we're very glad to have you here, but we want you to understand that we're not here just to practice church or something like that. We want to hear from God, and as we've come to the scriptures and read the holy truth of the Bible, we believe that God's Spirit will speak to us if we have hearts to receive and hear. So we want to encourage you to come to God just now on that level, and ask Him to speak to you - could you do that? Just ask Him in a very short, brief, simple prayer: 'Lord, speak to me'. Indeed, that's something that all of us should be asking God as we come to His holy word, no matter how long you are on the road - we want to hear from God, don't we? So let's come and just say: 'Please Lord', as we sang, so let us pray now, 'Speak, O Lord'.

Father, we do thank You for revealing Yourself in Your Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. We thank You for the word of God that we have written on these pages that we hold - what a privilege it is! When we read these words of our Lord in this parable, we can even feel the weight, the weight of these words weighing on us. We feel the anointing of the Holy Spirit upon these words falling on us, we pray: please give us ears to hear, give us hearts to receive, give us wills to respond to the truth of Your word, we pray. We pray for every single soul here just now, Lord, I pray that whatever their state is before You, that it will be uncovered and that they will have truth and transparency to know how it is with their souls - that there will be nobody under any illusion or false sense of security. We want absolute security, by grace, through faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. We pray that that will be people's experience just now. So we ask for a further descent, as it were, of the Holy Spirit upon us, and a rising up of His work within us, that Your presence would come in a felt reality, Lord, in a manifest sense - that we would know that we have met with God. Lord, we need You, we all need a touch from Heaven. Please come, I need You, Lord. We take authority in the name of the Lord Jesus over every presence of darkness that would seek to snatch away the seed of the word and wreck the work of God. In the name of the Lord Jesus we bind those powers, and we ask You now, Lord, to release the full, dynamic, effect of the Gospel - by the power and instrumentality of the Holy Spirit we pray, Amen.

If you can remember two weeks ago - some of you weren't with us - but I began with a parable, I'm just trying to remember what it was! It's gone from my head, can anybody tell me? The virgins, yes, thank you! Yes, the parable of the virgins. I do remember what I said about parables, I said that a parable was meant to be heard. I think that's important. We have the privilege today of having commentaries galore, maybe, on our shelves and study Bibles with copious notes, and you need a magnifying glass to read them. We've got the Internet, the World Wide Web, a wealth of information - I think I'd be right in saying that we have more scriptural information today in our generation than any previous generation has ever had. But we need to remember what it was like for these first hearers. They heard this for the first time, imagine what it was like hearing the Good Samaritan for the first time, the Prodigal Son for the first time - it's all brand-new. It is the intention of the Lord Jesus, I believe, to grasp in the first hearing of the message - for those who have hearts to hear and receive, that's important, we'll look at that in a minute - but He desired that those who were ready to get the message would get the message. There was often one main point - several points of course, but they all related to a central core theme that He was seeking to get across.

We've got to understand - and this is why I pray the way I do before I preach - that the enemy has a vested interest in being at church...

Now just out of interest, the previous parable in this chapter, chapter 13, I believe is the parable of the sower, the seed, and the soils. Jesus is the sower, the seed is the word of God, the preaching of the Gospel and the message of the Kingdom, and the soils picture the hearts of people who hear the word, and how they respond. They respond - and this is key - according to the condition of their hearts. That's the four soils, and I believe it's a parable on parables - it's a parable about how people receive the word of God. In verse 4, if you look at chapter 13, we see that there are some people who have hard hearts. 'As he sowed', Jesus gives out the word, 'some seed fell by the wayside; and the birds came and devoured them'. In verse 19 Jesus gives the meaning of that: 'When anyone hears the word of the kingdom, and does not understand it, then the wicked one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is he who received seed by the wayside'.

We've got to understand - and this is why I pray the way I do before I preach - that the enemy has a vested interest in being at church. Did you know that? He wants to be where the word is preached, with the intent that he will snatch away understanding from people. We've got to understand that first of all, if we're going to even make inroads into people's lives and into our communities - that we have an enemy, we are in a battle. So there are people with hard hearts because the enemy has done a number on them. He has got such a grip upon them that they can't even get an understanding. That's why people can come into a gathering where there is an obvious sense of the manifestation of the Presence of God, and they can just walk out as if they had been at the cinema or a football match - in fact, they're probably less excited than even they would be at those two events. It just has left them untouched because their hearts are hard, and Satan has bound them and blinded them lest the light of the Gospel - and I hope that's not you, that you have let Satan have such inroads in your life that the word of God cannot get through to you. You're so dark that the light of God cannot dawn unto you that you might be saved.

Then there are those with shallow hearts, Jesus speaks of them in verses 5 and 6: 'Some fell on stony places, where they did not have much earth; and they immediately sprang up because they had no depth of earth. But when the sun was up they were scorched, and because they had no root they withered away'. Jesus interprets it in verse 20: 'He who received the seed on stony places, this is he who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy'. This is a group of people or an individual who have an emotional reception of the message of God, they embrace it with their feelings, and yet verse 21 says he or she 'has no root in himself, but endures only for a while. For when tribulation or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he stumbles'. This is a shallow heart. They have had an emotional reaction to the word, and yet there is no depth - and when the sun, the scorching of adversity, tribulation and persecution comes, because there is no real root they wither. That's how some people hear the word of God. That's the explanation for so many people who do seem to embrace the message, but never make anything of it: shallow hearts.

People can come into a gathering where there is an obvious sense of the manifestation of the Presence of God, and they can just walk out as if they had been at the cinema or a football match...

Then there are crowded hearts. In verse 7: 'Some fell among thorns, and the thorns sprang up and choked them'. Jesus says in verse 22: 'He who received seed among the thorns is he who hears the word, and the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and he becomes unfruitful'. The emotions are then affected by other things: anxieties, cares, wealth, materialism - they begin to love other things more, and it takes them away from the word of God. Have you got a crowded heart today, or a shallow heart, or a hard heart?

Then Jesus finishes that parable, verse 8: 'But others fell on good ground and yielded a crop: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty'. Verse 23, the interpretation: 'He who received seed on the good ground is he who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and produces: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty'. It's not about how much fruit you produce, it's just whether or not there is actual life - and the evidence of life is fruit. This parable, as many of the parables, is all about how God wants to change our hearts so that we will receive the word in such a way that we will bear fruit to His glory. He wants fruitfulness from our lives. Last Sunday night I was preaching here on Genesis chapter 1, and we saw there how God desired fruitfulness from His creation: 'Be fruitful and multiply, and replenish the earth'. God still requires that of us, not just in a physical way, but in a spiritual capacity: He wants us to bear fruit as an evidence that our hearts are changed, and there is life, the very life of God, residing within us.

We see from this parable of the sower, the seed, and the soils - as well as the one we have read together and are going to look at just now - there is a problem. The problem is, there are those who appear to receive the word of God, but their life does not bear fruit - or those who think they have entered God's Kingdom but they haven't. These Sunday mornings I have chosen, led by God I believe, to look at parables in which the Lord Jesus compares and contrasts those who think they have entered God's kingdom, and those who Jesus says really do. That's why we looked at the parable of the ten virgins, next week we might look at the parable of the dragnet, there is also the parable of the sheep and the goats. This morning we're looking at the parable of the wheat and the tares.

The first and major point Jesus is making is: it's hard to tell the difference. That's what all these parables aforementioned are teaching. It was hard to tell the difference between the five virgins that had lamps without oil, and the five that had lamps with oil, from the outward appearance you would hardly know. It's hard to tell the difference between the sheep and the goat, in a Palestinian context anyway. The dragnet brings in all sorts of fish, but the net has to be taken to the shore and the fisherman has to sort out the good from the bad. This parable today shows us that the wheat and the tares are very hard to distinguish. Lindsay is going to put a slide up on the screen that actually shows wheat and tares - wheat before it is fully ripe, we're talking about before harvest time; and here are tares over here, I'll not pronounce the Latin name! But they are very, very similar. Tares are weeds by the way, in case you didn't know that, and they look just like wheat - except that they have a little black grain that appears on them, but it's very difficult to tell the difference with the naked eye. But when the time comes for the wheat to bear its fruit and be harvested, that's the time when tares are discovered - because there is no fruit to harvest, they are counterfeit. You can take the slide down.

Jesus says they might think they're in the kingdom, they might look as if they're in the kingdom, but they're not in the kingdom...

The devil - and we are clear that it is the devil here, verse 25, 'an enemy has done this', sown the tares among the wheat. The devil loves to counterfeit the true. Now we have this from the beginning of the Bible right to the very end. He is a liar from the beginning, and he loves to deceive, and ultimately he wants to damage the work of God. He wants to plant false Christians amidst the true. What greater deception could there be than for the devil to make people believe that they are saved, and they are in the kingdom of God, when in fact they are not? This is what the Scripture teaches: that during this period of time in human history there will be many who will name the name of Christ - and you only have to look over Christendom - but Jesus says they might think they're in the kingdom, they might look as if they're in the kingdom, but they're not in the kingdom.

So it's hard to tell the difference. You may look like a follower of God, but actually be a child of the devil. That's very strong, isn't it? That's the way Jesus spoke. Turn with me to John chapter 8, keeping your finger in our portion at Matthew 13, but turn to John 8 verse 31. This is quite a long reading, but it's very important. John 8 verse 31: 'Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, 'If you abide in My word'', if you remain in My word, ''you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free'. They answered Him, 'We are Abraham's descendants, and have never been in bondage to anyone. How can you say, 'You will be made free'?'. Jesus answered them, 'Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin. And a slave does not abide in the house forever, but a son abides forever. Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed. I know that you are Abraham's descendants, but you seek to kill Me, because My word has no place in you. I speak what I have seen with My Father, and you do what you have seen with your father'. They answered and said to Him, 'Abraham is our father'. Jesus said to them, 'If you were Abraham's children, you would do the works of Abraham. But now you seek to kill Me, a Man who has told you the truth which I heard from God. Abraham did not do this. You do the deeds of your father'. Then they said to Him, 'We were not born of fornication; we have one Father; God'. Jesus said to them, 'If God were your Father, you would love Me, for I proceeded forth and came from God; nor have I come of Myself, but He sent Me. Why do you not understand My speech?'', or why do you not receive the seed of the word, ''Because you are not able to listen to My word. You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it. But because I tell the truth, you do not believe Me. Which of you convicts Me of sin? And if I tell the truth, why do you not believe Me? He who is of God hears God's words; therefore you do not hear, because you are not of God''.

It's hard to tell the difference, but Jesus basically says that those who are from God hear God's words, and obey God's truth, and bear fruit for His glory. It's hard to tell the difference, but this parable - if you look at chapter 13 of Matthew again - indicates that there are some tell-tale signs of the difference between wheat and tares. Look at verse 27: 'The servants of the owner came and said to him, 'Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have tares?'' - they think the seed that he sowed was contaminated in some way with tare seed. So it appears that the servants of the owner of the field recognised some differences as these two plants grew up. We know from the rest of what Jesus taught - if we put it very plainly - that good trees will bear good fruit, bad trees will bear bad fruit. In other words, fruit is a sign of root, the life source.

What do the tell-tale signs in your life point to? Are you exhibiting the fruit of the Spirit or the works of the flesh?

Now let me just ask you - and I don't want to complicate things here this morning - but what do the tell-tale signs in your life point to? If it's hard to tell the difference between wheat and tares, and these servants could tell somehow, what do the tell-tale signs in your life point to? Are you exhibiting the fruit of the Spirit or the works of the flesh? Turn with me to Galatians chapter 5 - keep your finger in Matthew chapter 13 - Galatians 5 verse 19: 'Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. And those who are Christ's have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit'.

What are the tell-tale signs in your life? You might say: 'Oh, please, am I meant to be perfect?'. No, you're not, and you ain't, and I'm not either - and we cannot be. We're not talking about perfection here, we're not talking about being squeaky-clean, and even meriting some form of salvation by our good works. What we are saying is, we're asking the question: what are the predominant characteristics of my life? What are the desires of my heart? Not perfection, we're not saying we're not struggling with sin - we're all struggling with sin! We are all wrestling with temptation! I'm the chief one doing that! But my desire is after God, my heart is to be holy, even in the midst of my struggles and failures - where is your desire? What are the tell-tale signs of your heart?

It's hard to tell the difference, there were some tell-tale signs, but it's important to emphasise this: we are not capable of judging between wheat and tares. That might seem contradictory. How can the servants of the owner of this field sort of detect that there is something wrong here, but we are not capable of judging between wheat and tares, between those who are true believers and those who are not? Well, we see that these servants, their motivation in distinguishing the two was to sort them out there and then. They wanted to weed out the tares and throw them away, and leave only room for the wheat in the field. But look at verse 28 of Matthew 13, Jesus said: ''An enemy has done this'. The servants said to him, 'Do you want us then to go and gather them up?'. But he', Jesus said in the parable, the Lord, the owner of the field, 'said, 'No, lest while you gather up the tares you also uproot the wheat with them''.

Now, just for the Christians' benefit, this is not referring to church discipline that we know is sanctioned by the Lord Jesus Christ. We have to tell between clean and unclean, and we have to deal with issues in the church on the basis of God's righteous law - but what is being spoken of here is a group of people who are trying, by these tell-tale signs, to do God's job of judging the hearts and the conditions of men. We are not permitted to do that. We might be able to recognise signs, as Galatians 5 says, the works of unrighteousness and lawlessness, the works of the flesh, and we can distinguish between those and the fruit of the Spirit - but what we're not permitted to do is judge people on that basis and seek to discern the condition of their heart.

There are people today who think it is their job to declare who is saved and who is lost...

Why is this important? I think it is fundamental, not least because there are people today who think it is their job to declare who is saved and who is lost. Especially in evangelicalism, fundamentalist evangelicalism, people who delight - I mean I have had people come to me and say, 'You know, so and so is not a real Christian', maybe in the public domain, or I have quoted so and so, and I've been told that they weren't saved, they're not in heaven. It's remarkable how some people can know these things! Now we can declare how to be saved, Scripture teaches that, and we can even declare that those who repent and believe in the gospel are saved - but we cannot come personally to someone, and do some kind of spiritual CAT scan, and say yea or nay about their eternal salvation. As someone said: we are to be evangelists, not detectives. Both extremes are dangerous: someone who says to another, 'Oh, you're saved now, you are definitely saved now' - that is dangerous. No man can tell another man or a woman that they are definitely saved. Neither, the other extreme, can you go to someone and say: 'Oh, you're definitely not saved, you're not right with God'.

I might go into this little bit more next week, but I have personal experience of this myself in my own testimony. Some of you listening to this preaching over these weeks might think that I never have issues with doubting salvation - far from it! One of the worst experiences that I had in my youth was a very severe time of fear, I would go as far as to say I was depressive and anxious about my own security before God. It all came to a head, to put a long story short, when I went to a Gospel Mission in Belfast - the church will remain nameless - and there was a preacher that came from another part of the world who was taking this Mission. That particular Sunday morning, it was, he asked people to put their hand up, those who signed the dotted line, those who had raised their hand at a meeting, those who had prayed a sinner's prayer, those who had walked down an aisle to express that they were coming to Christ - and I did what probably you were not allowed to do in some unwritten rulebook, I opened my eyes and I looked at all these hands going up all over the church everywhere, and I had to put my hand up. Elders in the church, big names in the church, all had their hands up - and this preacher proceeded to announce to them: 'You're all not saved'. Now you can imagine being a young man who already had issues about security and doubts of salvation, and then being told this. I then did what you do, you go and see the preacher afterwards. It was very interesting, it didn't dawn on me at the time, but it was only me and another fellow - the whole church had their hands up, but there were only two people went to see this man. I proceeded to tell the man that I had trusted the Lord as a child, and asked the Lord to save me, and repented of my sins as far as I could, and I was baptised and all - and he told me it will make you wetter and no better - and he then proceeded to tell me that I wasn't saved. Then he got me to get down on my knees and do exactly what I had done before as a child, and then I got up and he says: 'Now you're saved now'. I went out, and there was a call box there, I wasn't driving at the time, and I rang my father and said: 'You need to come and collect me, I've just got saved'. He said: 'You are saved!', and I said: 'I thought I was saved, but now I realise I'm not saved, and now I've got saved - but, to tell you the truth, I really don't know whether I'm saved or not'. I didn't know whether I was coming or going.

Now I don't want to analyse that man's ministry, although I could, but it would be dangerous. What he was seeking to do, I believe, was to pull up what he perceived as being tares among the wheat. I think that was the motivation that morning - and Jesus says: 'No! Lest, while you gather up the tares you also uproot the wheat with them'. Jesus is saying we are not capable of judging, because we can get it wrong - and we tend to get it wrong, I think, more than we get it right! You might disagree with what I'm going to say, but no man can assure another man or woman of their salvation - it is the witness of the word of God, and faith in the word, and the witness of the Holy Spirit witnessing with your spirit that you are a child of God. God must give you assurance, not man!

It is not my job, or anyone else's job, to judge you, it's God's...

It is not my job, or anyone else's job, to judge you, it's God's. That's basically how I got my assurance - that was the last time I seriously doubted my salvation, because I read the word of God, what it said, 'Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord', in trueness and in sincerity, in repentance and faith, 'shall be saved' - and I had a witness of the Spirit to that, and I have the witness of the Spirit today, I'm secure in Christ. I'm secure in Christ! This preaching these weeks is not in anyway to wreck or rock your security in the Lord Jesus, but what it ought to do is: if there is a false security, if your life is not manifesting any fruit of the Spirit, but the works of the flesh, and yet you're professing Jesus Christ - you might look the part and sound the part, but there is a fundamental problem. By the way: these people aren't the ones usually that worry about their security, just to put some of you at ease. Like Nicholson says: 'It's the man with the fiver in his pocket who checks to see if it's there'. It's those who usually are right with God that are concerned about it. These usually are folk who think they are all that, and they have arrived, but there is no fruit.

It's hard to tell the difference, but there are some tell-tale signs that people can see - but we are not capable of judging. Here's the last thing, really, that Jesus says: wait till the harvest of judgement. Verse 30: ''Let both grow together until the harvest, and at the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, 'First gather together the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them, but gather the wheat into my barn''. Let both grow together - that takes a big weight off my shoulders! I think if some places could have it, they would have one of these - you know in the shops when you go through the doors, there's a bleep happens if you've pinched anything - they would have that for us to see whether we are the real thing or not: 'Beep, beep, beep', not letting anybody in! It takes a great weight off my shoulders to know that's not my business, that's not my business, and it's not yours either. I'm not saying we don't discern, I'm not saying we don't have discipline, I'm not saying we don't accept people who are genuinely testifying to the grace of God in their life - but we are not to become obsessed with weighing others up.

You might say: 'Well, the field is the world here'. Yes, it is, but remember that these are characteristics of the kingdom of heaven in this age. 'Therefore', Paul says in 1 Corinthians 4:5, 'judge nothing before the time, until the Lord comes, who will both bring to light the hidden things of darkness and reveal the counsels of the hearts'. It's hard to tell the difference, there might be a few tell-tale signs, we're not in a position to judge, but the harvest day will declare it.

I think it would be right for you to be uncomfortable if you were under a false sense of security...

I think it would be right for you to be uncomfortable if you were under a false sense of security. It would be better that you were comfortable and got through to assurance and security through that discomfort, that godly sorrow that leads to repentance, rather than coasted out in blind ignorance until Judgement Day, and have a rude awakening - would you not agree? I do think there will be a lot of surprises on that day, especially for those who said: 'Oh, they're in, and they're out - oh, you'll never see them in heaven!'. I mean, the audacity of people to say: 'Oh, they're in hell'. You may have heard the poem:

'I dreamt death came the other night
And heaven's gate swung wide;
An angel with a halo bright
Ushered me inside.

There to my astonishment
Stood folks I'd judged and labelled,
As quite unfit, of little worth,
And spiritually disabled.

Indignant words rose to my lips
But never were set free;
For every face showed stunned surprise
Not one expected me!'.

I want, as I close, to draw your attention to the awful day of judgement that is coming. Please read with me verses 41 and 42 again: 'The Son of Man will send out His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and those who practice lawlessness, and will cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth'. I cannot comment on that, it speaks for itself. I just say to you, with all that I can muster in my heart: make sure you are right with God! Make sure you have repented of your sins and believe the gospel, and come to the cross where Jesus died in your place. I'll tell you, upon the authority of the word of God: if you have repented and if you are believing in Him, you're saved, you're secure in the refuge that is Christ Jesus, and His glorious resurrection where He gives eternal life to those who believe - but make sure that you don't end up, on that day, with a rude awakening!

What a blessing verse 43 is, the alternative to hell is heaven: 'Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears to hear, let him hear!'. It's hard to tell the difference, there are some tell-tale signs, we are not capable or qualified in judging, the judgement day will declare it. Nevertheless the solid foundation of God stands sure, having this seal: the Lord knows them that are His, and let those who name the name of Christ depart from iniquity.

Make sure that you don't end up, on that day, with a rude awakening!

Let us pray. Let's just, in this moment as we close the meeting - you prayed and asked the Lord to speak to you - if you are a person that struggles with doubting salvation, you need to get your eyes off yourself, off your own temptations and struggles, and look out of yourself, and look to Him, and repent and believe in Him. Renounce all self and all sin, but look to Him. That's often the problem with people who struggle with assurance: they are looking inside, they have the disease of introspection, they have themselves on their own dissection table and they are analysing everything that they do, right or wrong. We ought not to ignore when there is flagrant sin, and lifestyle sin in our experience, but that is not where our focus is to be. We are to be looking out to Jesus who gives power and makes all grace abound, so that we might live this life of holiness. So come to Him, and ask Him once and for all to make you sure, to give you the filling of the Holy Spirit, to fill you with the Holy Spirit that He might testify to you that you belong to the Lord.

We read 1 John last week, and over and over again it was repeated that it is the Spirit who testifies and witnesses of assurance. It's the Spirit - and a lot of evangelicals have the word, but they don't have much of the Spirit. They can have the Bible coming out of their ears, but still wracked with doubts about their salvation. You need His Spirit to witness with your spirit. You need the adoption of a son or daughter in Jesus. Get secure by grace, through faith, today - once and for all.

But please, if you are showing no signs - you take the name of Christ, our country is full of people like this, our churches are bulging with people who take the name of Christ, but there is no reality of life and there is no fruit to show for it. Would you please, if that is you, would you please be real and transparent, and choose today to step into the light. Confess what you are and what you have done, would you ask the Lord to cleanse you in His precious blood, and set you free - not only from the guilt of sin, and the consequences of sin, but to set you free from sin. You can't put your hand out to God for forgiveness one way, and then put your other hand out the other way clutching your sin - you can't do that, that is duplicitous. You can't let go of your sin in your own will, I know that, you don't have the strength - but you've got to be ready and willing for God to set you free from sin. You cannot serve God and mammon, you cannot serve God and Baal.

Father, I just pray that folk in this gathering this morning will meet You, that those who are struggling with assurance will come through to assurance not because of some man telling them: 'Oh, you're all right, don't worry about it, forget about all those things', but by the witness of the word and the Spirit. Those who are blissfully but dangerously ignorant of their perilous condition, that this morning they will come awake and get right with God. Father, thank You for Your Presence, and thank You for the candour of Your word. May Your holy compassion and love that demonstrated itself for us in Jesus taking our place and bearing our sin that we might be free from the consequences and the very presence of sin, may His love fill every heart - the perfect love that casts out all fear - as sons and daughters in the kingdom of God. For His glory and His sake, Jesus Christ our Lord, we pray, Amen.

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Transcribed by:
Andrew Watkins,
Preach The Word.
January 2014
www.preachtheword.com

This sermon was delivered at Scrabo Hall in Newtownards, Northern Ireland, by David Legge. It was transcribed from the recording, titled "Wheat and Tares" - Transcribed by Andrew Watkins, Preach The Word.

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